3 Signs It May Be Time For Night Weaning Your Baby

3 signs it may be time to night weanOne of the questions we get asked a lot (via Facebook, e-mails, and phone calls), is “When can I wean my baby from nighttime feedings?” Understandably, most parents are eager to get back to enjoying nights of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep, but still want to make sure their baby isn’t going hungry.

Of course, there is no fixed schedule for night weaning. Every baby is different, so every baby will be ready to wean from night feedings at different points. As we have shared in a previous post, even expert pediatricians disagree on exactly when babies are physically ready to go all night without eating.

This is one reason why we created our night weaning quiz, Is Your Baby Ready For Night Weaning? If you haven’t taken it before, why don’t you take it today? At only 5 questions, it’s quick, and it will give you great insights into whether to not night weaning is right for your baby at this time.

Night Weaning: Baby Night Feedings By Age

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While there isn’t a “magical age” at which every baby is ready for night weaning, there are some general guidelines for night feedings that seem to work for most babies:

  • Newborns to 3 months old: Feedings every 2-3 hours, on demand
  • 3-4 Months: 2-3 feedings per night or every 3-6 hours, on demand
  • 5-6 Months: 1-2 night feedings
  • 7-9 Months: 1, maybe 2, night feedings
  • 10-12 Months: Sometimes 1 night feeding
  • 2+ Months: Generally no feedings

Of course, growth spurts, illnesses, and teething will be factors to consider. During those times, your baby may need a night feeding, even though she would not need one under normal circumstances.

Nicole’s Note:
“In our experience, formula-fed babies do tend to night-wean sooner than breastfed babies. Breast milk is digested faster than formula and is more concentrated So, baby tends not to eat as much volume of breast milk during the day. We tend to see most formula-fed babies night-wean around 6 months old. Of course, all babies are different and you know your baby best.”

3 Signs Your Baby is Ready For Night Weaning

Those guidelines are helpful, but how will you know when your baby is ready to night wean? Be on the lookout for these signs. They could be indications that your baby is ready to drop nighttime feedings:

  1. Your baby is not eating as much during the day. If you find that your baby is not eating as much as usual during daylight hours, but is still waking to eat one or more times during the night, that’s a good indication that it may be time to drop (or at least reduce) nighttime feedings. Encourage your baby to eat more during the day. If he can get most/all of his calories in during the day, he’ll be ready sooner to wean away from eating at night.
  2. Your baby is not eating much at night and treats nighttime feeds as playtime. You may start to notice that even though your baby wakes at night and cries for you, she isn’t very hungry. She might nurse a little, or drink a little of her bottle, and then be wide awake and wanting to ‘play.’ In these cases, your baby is likely waking out of habit (or due to her sleep associations), and not out of hunger. This may be a sign that her nighttime feedings are not really necessary anymore, and that she is ready to drop them.
  3. Your baby has started solid foods (at the appropriate time!). Disclaimer: there is a right time and a wrong time to start your baby on solid foods. For details on when to start your baby on solids, check out this post. Once your baby has started eating solid foods, it won’t be too long before he’s ready to wean from nighttime feeds. Your baby may continue to need one (or possibly two) night feeds after he starts solid food, but after a few months, you should be able to gradually wean him from nighttime eating. Of course, if you are breastfeeding, you’ll need to make sure you can maintain a good milk supply once you drop nighttime nursing. For details about how to measure your breastmilk supply, check out this page.

*BONUS TIP* There is a wide variance in your baby’s nighttime feeding. This one can be trickier to diagnose. But if you notice a lot of variation in when your baby wakes for night feedings, that can be a sign it is time to night wean. For instance, if your baby wakes at 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. to eat one day, then wakes at 3 a.m. the next day, then wakes at 10:30 p.m. and not again until morning on the third day, that variance may mean it is time to start the night weaning process.

Keep in mind that none of these signs on their own mean that your baby is ready to night wean. For example, a 3 month old baby may have a few nights when there are big variances in the timing of her night feedings. That certainly does not mean she’s ready to stop eating at night! However, if you see two or three of these signs together, that is a good indication that you can begin the night weaning process. When doing consultations, we look at a large variety of factors when giving our professional opinion about whether it’s “time” or not.

Still not sure whether your baby is ready for night weaning? In general, Nicole recommends an attempt at night weaning around 8 or 9 months, due to what she calls a “chicken-and-egg” problem that some families face around this time:

“A baby needs a certain amount of sustenance during the day and if he gets some at night, he won’t eat more during the day. If he doesn’t eat more during the day, he needs it at night. So, sometimes, a baby really does feel hungry at night, but it doesn’t mean he can’t go all night without a feeding. It simply means he needs to adjust how much he’s eating during the day. The idea is to gently help him do this.”

For more information on breastfeeding and night weaning, be sure to take a look at this article: How Weaning From Breastfeeding Can Affect Your Baby’s Sleep.

Is your baby ready to start night weaning? We can help!

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60 thoughts on “3 Signs It May Be Time For Night Weaning Your Baby”

  1. Hello- our baby is a week away from being 11 months and still wakes frequently to eat. When he was 7-8 months he was sleeping 7pm to 7am and waking 2-3 times to eat. Now he goes to bed between 6:30-7:30, wakes every 2-3 hours to eat (if my husband goes in to comfort him he screams until I come in, if I go in he screams until I offer my breast) and wakes up between 5:30am-7:00am.

    We have been sleep training for about a month (if he doesn’t fall asleep eating, we sit outside the crib and sing and pat his back until he falls asleep).

    Leaving him to fuss a bit in the crib doesn’t seem to work very well, he just screams and stands up or sits on all fours until we come get him.

    • Hi @Sydne, thanks for writing. I am so sorry to hear your little one has been waking so much to eat. It sounds like you and your husband are working hard to get his sleep back on track, so if you’re sure he’s getting enough calories during the daytime hours during the day and aren’t sure where to go next, I’d suggest looking into working with a sleep consultant. We have a team of experts ready to craft a specific plan of action for you baby – and don’t worry that they would just tell you to let him cry, they will create a plan that you feel comfortable implementing as well as something that will work for you baby. To read more about our Personalized Sleep Plans, please visit here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/
      Hang in there! Let us know if you need anything else.

  2. My son is nearly 9 months old and has always woke for a night feed, at a different time every night, for 6-7oz. I’m trying to wean him off and I’m thinking how best to do this. The last two nights I’ve introduced a dummy when he woke and this kept him asleep for a few more hours and he then wakes again still wanting milk.
    I’m wondering if it’s a sensible decision to introduce a dummy at this age and then once he has broken the habit of night feeds, to cut it back out or to try another method? The gradual reducing doesn’t seem to work as he then cries once his feed is finished and is unable to self settle himself to sleep as he can when he’s feeling full .
    He eats really well during the day, (around 30z of milk and 3 solid meals a day)

    • @Shells – thanks for writing to us. I am sorry you’ve been struggling with your son’s night waking. At 9 months many babies are able to sleep through the night, while some babies still need one feed through their first birthday. So if your son is not waking for comfort reasons, it is possible he needs the top off still. Here is a link to a sample schedule for a 9 month old: https://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/9-month-old-baby-schedule/
      For some additional help with getting him sleeping through the night you may want to download our free guide: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-through-night-free-ebook/
      This may have some other tips you haven’t tried that may work for him to sleep longer stretches.
      I hope this helps and he starts sleeping through for you soon! If you need anything else please feel free to contact us again anytime at [email protected]

  3. We are trying to night wean our 8.5 month old. We just did night #2 of the mini action plan. He cried for an hour last night up to his first allowed feeding. He only calmed if he was held and walked around but would not fall back asleep until he nursed. Any ideas??

    • @Lisa – Thank you for using our site to help with your family’s sleep! I’m sorry to hear that you are having a few difficulties with night weaning. It can definitely take a few days (or more) for a baby to get used to going longer stretches without eating. If you are still having trouble after several days, please consider connecting with one of our sleep consultants either in our Members Area or with aone-on-one consultation. Hang in there, Lisa!

  4. I’m considering dropping my 9 month old night feed. He has never been a good sleeper but more recently has started going longer stretches. Some nights 7-8hrs (rarely) mostly 3-4hrs. When he started wakimg just once at night I would feed him but then he would get bright eyes and be up for over 1.5-2hrs seemingly awake. I’m thinking the feed is stimulating him. Feeds have never really put him to sleep since he was 6 months old. I was gonna up some solids during day and drop this feed. Of course first night I planned on not feeding him he woke after 2hrs, then 1hr, then up for 1.5hrs (I think teething so I gave Motrin) and then we coslept the rest of the night. I did not feed him and he was ok rest of night after he finally fell asleep. Should I have fed him? How do you tell if they are waking cause of hunger at that age or cause of other reasons?

    • Hi @Ali, thanks for your comment! I am sorry you’ve been struggling with your baby’s night wakings. It can be tough to figure out if the baby is wakings out of habit, or because they really need to be fed! Many 9 month olds can sleep through the night, but some may not be ready just yet. If you want personalized advise on what to do with your baby, our sleep consultants can definitely help when looking at a family history of your son. If you are interested, you can view our packages on our website here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/ or feel free to contact us directly at [email protected] so we can help point you in the direction of the resource that would be best for your situation. I hope this helps!

  5. Hi. My baby boy will be 9 months old in 10 days time and has been exclusively breastfed. I started solids at 5 months and 1 week as he wasn’t satisfied on a liquid diet from 5 months and would want to breastfeed more often during the day and night. Typically he wakes twice in the night for a breastfeed on a good day. He has a breastfeed at 4am, porridge with 4oz formula at 7.30 am, lunch at 11am, snack at 1pm, dinner at 4pm and weetabix cereal with 4oz of formula at 6.30 pm (I introduced this because he began to wake up 3-4 times at night) he goes to sleep by 7.30pm on his own with out a feed and has a dream feed of breast milk at 10pm, he then wakes at 1.30 for another breastfeed. He also puts himself to sleep during nap time. I have cut out day feeds but ultimately want to cut out the 1.30am and 4am feed. I have tried increasing his meal portions but as soon as he’s had enough he begins to gag and if I force him he will throw it up, also his portions are of a reasonable amount for his age. This is also why I introduced weetabix before the bedtime routine as I figured feeding him little and often is better for him to keep solids down. I have also tried putting him back to sleep using the pick up put down method and rocking him. I have also tried giving him water at night instead of the breastfeed but he doesn’t stay asleep or keeps whinging and crying which can last 4-5 hours. His night feeds last betweeen 5-10 mins and he falls asleep feeding. I really don’t know what else to try, can you help?

    • @Sonal Patel,Thank you for writing to us and sharing your situation with us. I am sorry you are struggling with your son’s sleep! I went through a very similar situation with my son so I really had to take a look at what I was feeding him (and the amount of breast milk and formula I gave him during the day as well to make sure he got all the nutrition he needed).
      You may find this article is helpful as it outlines the amount of food and formula/breast milk they should be consuming in a 24 hour period: https://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/9-month-old-baby-schedule/
      At 9 months most babies are able to sleep through the night although some may need 1 feeding a night until a year, but we do recommend trying to drop it around 9 months so I think that is a good goal to work towards. What you may want to try to do, is to gradually move those feedings (dream feed and 2+ night wakings) into the daytime hours – the schedule should help with this. And/or adding some extra ounces to his formula in the two bottles you are already give him if you think he would take more than 4 ounces at a time.
      Hopefully as you slowly introduce those nighttime calories he is getting into his daytime, he will begin to drop the feedings and the pick up put down method will become more effective so he does not just whine on an off for hours.
      Good luck! Let us know how it turns out and if you need anything else! Thank you for using the Baby Sleep Site as a resource!

  6. Hi, not sure how old this post is but I’ve just come across it.
    I have a 10 month old who is exclusively breastfed. He is on solids and eating a bit of everything now, it is still hit and miss though and I would say he is not a great eater. He wakes up in the night every hour/2 hours or so. During the day he will have a quick feed only at nap times and if we are out then he won’t want a feed and can easily go without a feed for 6+ hours. I plan to wean by the time he turns 1 but don’t know how to go about this as I’am worried when I stop then he won’t be getting enough through the day as he is not a great eater. Some advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks x

    • Hi @ Eyvah – Thank you for writing to us. Did you see our other article on night weaning?:
      It also sounds like your LO has a sleep association that is causing him to wake every hour or two. Is he feeding when he wakes every hour or two? If so, he may need some help with learning how to fall to sleep on his own and back to sleep, and the night weaning and the sleep training can be combined or worked on separately. It depends on your preferences for how you would like to sleep train, the approach to take, as well as the temperament of your son. Often, you can begin to work on both with an approach that works slowly to offer one less feeding at night combined with feeding less at the feeding you are trying to cut out. Gradually, you work towards no feedings. This way, he has time to adjust to less milk at night and work on eating more during the day so you know it’s not an issue of hunger when he wakes. If you would like help coming up with a day by day plan from one of our expert sleep consultants, please check out some of our offerings here:https://www.babysleepsite.com/services/

  7. I have a question about what Nicole referred to as the chicken and the egg scenario regarding feedings. What does she suggest to push the tide in favor of eating more during the day?

    To put it in context, my 9-month-old typically wakes twice a night and sometimes will scarf down his bottles and other times not so much. Whenever I have tried to feed him more than what he will eat during the day he has just thrown it up. Which is frustrating. Other than that, I would say we don’t really have a problem with sleep. He does not need the bottle to sleep; well he needs to be full, but he doesn’t fall asleep with a bottle in his mouth. We have a well-established routine for bedtime and nap time. He only really started eating solids within the past month, because he projectile vomited (and still does) anything pureed. We are making progress on him eating more solids though.

    • Hi @Holly! Thank you for commenting! We understand how confusing weaning can be, especially if your little one vomited when being too full, and had a harder time starting solids. it may come naturally that once he is eating/tolerating more solids, he may lessen/drop his night feeds, and you can also work very slowly and gently to make one of his nighttime bottles smaller, to get him used to eating less at night. This may encourage him to eat more in the day, and depending on what he is eating regarding solids, a high protein snack before bed may help him sleep longer without as much intake from his nighttime bottles too.
      Have you checked out this video and quiz about night feeds/night weaning?
      We hope that it is helpful too on your journey to sleep. Thanks again for visiting our sleepy little village!

  8. My baby just turned 4 months. She generally goes down to bed well at night around 7pm. Sometimes she falls asleep during bedtime routine/nursing, sometimes she goes down awake with or without a soother- whichever she prefers.
    She generally wakes twice/night to feed and goes straight back to sleep and never needs her soother through the night.
    Recently she’s waking more often (maybe once or twice more) and sometimes just an hr or 2 after she’s eaten so I have been giving her her soother.
    I’m assuming this is the 4 month sleep regression and it will pass shortly.
    My question is- should I nurse her again rather than give her the soother? Is relying on the soother in the night (which she never used to do) creating a new negative sleep association?
    Thanks for your input!

    • @Eve, Thank you for writing! That is great that your daughter has been going back to bed so quickly after her nighttime feeds – it does help you figure out that she really does need the feeds versus waking out of habit – which it seems like she is doing more of with the regression as you mentioned. Either nursing her during these regression wake ups or giving her the soother will likely create an association, but in regards to the soother – it is up to you if this is a negative association or not! Many families use these for months to years, so this will be your decision. Of course in these early months it may require more work on your end if she looses it during sleep and then wakes up looking for it and is too little to pop it back in, but as she gets older, she will be able to find it on her own. Here is a link to an article on sleep habits where it explains why not all habits are bad: https://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/healthy-sleep-habits-why-not-all-sleep-habits-are-bad/
      I hope that helps and that her sleep from this regression smooths out quickly! Thank you for stopping by and using the Baby Sleep Site as a resource for sleep!

  9. My baby is 15 weeks and slept 6-7 hours at night (1 night/early morning feeding) by 9 weeks, and 7-8 hours (no night feedings) by 12 weeks. Just this week he has started struggling to sleep – waking every 1-2 hours and needing to be rocked back to sleep. We’ve tried to keep good sleep habits from the beginning and he has always been put to bed when he is drowsy, not asleep; and he usually doesn’t need to be rocked to sleep.
    Our schedule is a little different since he is now in daycare – For the past few weeks (after he dropped his last night feeding) our schedule has been to wake at 5:30 & eat/get ready for the day. He falls back to sleep and I take him to daycare at 6:30. He eats about 15-18oz at daycare over 3-4 feedings, and reports are that he naps well. He gets picked up at 4, eats about 6:30, naps a little in the evening, and then bedtime routine, feeding and bed – asleep by 9:30/9:45. He is still being swaddled – we’ve tried 1 arm out a few times and he does ok with that but isn’t quite ready for a sleep sack.
    He isn’t inconsolable when he wakes in the night, but the usual “stick the binki in” trick doesn’t work. I HAVE to pick him up. He usually calms quickly and falls to sleep within 5 minutes, but this working mama is exhausted! I’m not sure if he is teething or if this is regression…?!?

    • @Jessica, Thank you for your comment! I am sorry you are struggling with your son’s sleep. It does sound to me like the 4 month sleep regression. This is a tough time for many babies his age, since their sleep is permanently changing from a “newborn’s” sleep, and this often leads to more frequent wake ups at night and often disrupted naps as well. The key as you go through this is for you not to develop any short-term habits that could linger and turn into long-term sleep associations, which can lead to further problems down the road. This article can help you understand how your son’s sleep is changing: https://www.babysleepsite.com/how-we-sleep/4-month-old-sleep-regression-regression
      And here is an article to have on hand in regards to sleep training and teething, because there is the chance it’s the perfect storm where he’s going through both!https://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/teething-sleep/
      I hope that’s not the case but it’s good to be ready for when the time comes. We wish you the best of luck and please know we are here if you need more help!

  10. My boy is almost 6 months and on a good night will wake up every 2 hours to nurse. On a bad night, it’s every hour and a half. There are times he even wakes up every hour. We use the Ferber method for getting him back to sleep at those times, but after he settles he’ll wake up again an hour later. We’ve started him on solids… rice, oatmeal one or two times a day and even bone broth lately, but it hasnt seemed to help. We even tried a bottle of formula with rice in it right before bed, which did nothing. He still feeds every 2 hours or so during the day as well. And not a chubby baby! Solid 14-15 pounds. I’m coping well enough during the day but every time I wake up at night I feel awful. About to bring it up to my doctor at his next visit, but I want to drop some of his feedings. Even every 3 hours would be wonderful. But I worry that he’s eating that much because he actually needs it. He is a very active and wiggly baby.

    • @Meagan – Thank you for stopping in to our sleepy little village and for commenting here. I know, from personal experience, how exhausted you must feel from all this night waking and feeding. Hang in there! It sounds like checking in with his doctor may be a good idea if he’s feeding every 2 hours day and night and it’s concerning to you. Generally, babies having acceptable weight gain, growth and development are the key indicators as to whether they are getting enough nutrition, but getting a medical okay before night weaning and sleep coaching is always a great first step.

      We generally expect a 6-month old baby to feed 1-3 times during the night and around every 3 hours during the day though there are always exceptions to every rule – here is a sample feeding and sleep schedule that may be helpful for you: https://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/6-month-old-baby-schedule/

      It’s also a good idea for you to work on a plan that you can stay consistent with in terms of how to respond to his night waking and feeding during the night. This will help both you and and him learn what to expect during the night and will help him learn what you are trying to teach him – to fall asleep on his own and to sleep through the night outside of feeding times. This series of “boot camp” articles will help you get started with teaching him to learn this very important skill: https://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/boot-camp-part-one-5-things-to-do-before-sleep-training/

      We’ve found that it really doesn’t matter too much how much you feed your baby before bedtime if they haven’t quite learned how to fall asleep or back asleep on their own, unfortunately – though all feeding is essential if he’s not getting enough overall.

      I hope his doctor can give him a clean bill of health so you can feel more confident as you work on a plan for weaning (or not!) and for improving his sleep. We’re here to help if you find you need more support. Please keep us posted – good luck!

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